later than 2020. Mars robotic exploration would continue, leading to later human missions after successful demonstration on the Moon. Robotic exploration would continue across the solar system and would be complemented by telescopic searches around other stars. In addition, there would be demonstrations of key capabilities to support ambitious human and robotic exploration.

  • Space transportation capabilities. A program (subsequently named Project Constellation) would support the design and development of a new crew exploration vehicle for missions beyond low Earth orbit (the Orion spacecraft) and would thus separate crew transportation vehicle (Ares, the cargo-launch component).

  • International and commercial participation. The United States would pursue opportunities for international participation to support U.S. space exploration goals and pursue commercial opportunities for providing transportation and other services supporting the ISS and exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

To provide the resources to accomplish the Vision, the administration proposed budget increases of 5 percent per year for 3 years (fiscal year [FY] 2005 through FY 2007) and then 1 percent increases in the following 2 years.4 The budget strategy relied on holding down growth in programs that did not support the Vision, freeing billions of dollars in the decade beyond 2010 by retiring the shuttle, and finding innovative approaches to reduce the costs of space operations.

The president’s announcement also called for the formation of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, which would be charged to make recommendations on implementing the Vision. The commission’s report, which was released in June 2004,5 provided findings and recommendations about NASA management, development of enabling technologies, roles of the private sector and international participants, scientific research as a part of exploration, and opportunities for education and public engagement. In order to manage the exploration programs within the resources that were expected to be available, the commission recommended a “go as you can pay” approach that would allow specific goal milestones to be adjusted depending on what could be afforded along the way.


In the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-155),6 which was enacted on December 30, 2005, Congress gave NASA program responsibilities for FY 2006 through FY 2008, and it authorized appropriations for FY 2007 and FY 2008. The act endorsed the Vision, and it provided guidance and direction in several areas with respect to policy, program management, and accountability and oversight. The Joint Explanatory Statement of the House-Senate conference committee for the bill7 indicated as follows:

The conferees believe that the Conference Report provides a strong legislative foundation for the pursuit of the nation’s continued exploration of space in a manner that both preserves the


The FY 2005 NASA budget request called for a total budget of $16.2 billion in FY 2005, rising to $17.8 billion in FY 2007, and reaching $18.0 billion in FY 2009. The actual totals appropriated by Congress were $16.2 billion in FY 2005 and $16.3 billion in FY 2007; the administration’s request for FY 2009 in $17.6 billion.


President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, A Journey to Inspire, Innovate and Discover (also known as the Aldridge Commission report), June 2004, available at


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005, Public Law 109-155, 109th Congress, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 2005.


Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference, Conference Report on S. 1281, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005, U.S. House of Representatives, December 16, 2005, Congressional Record, Volume 151, p. H12028.

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